Viagra could help men fight the flab as well as boost their sex life
Drug converts undesirable white fat cells into beige fat which burns calories instead of storing itTests in mice found it could also reduce the risk of obesity complications by tackling inflammation

By
Claire Bates

PUBLISHED:

09:40 GMT, 18 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:40 GMT, 18 January 2013

Men who have trouble becoming aroused during sex have long relied on Viagra to give them a 'boost'. Now scientists have discovered a welcome side-effect – it can melt away that 'spare tyre' as well.

Researchers found the drug converts undesirable white fat cells into beige fat, which burns calories instead of storing them in the waistline.

The substance also reduces the risk of other complications caused by obesity such as inflammation, which can lead to heart disease.

Could popping a sex drug help overweight men to fight the flab It certainly works in mice

Could popping a sex drug help overweight men to fight the flab It certainly works in mice, say scientists

Study leader Professor Alexander Pfeifer, from the University of Bonn, said: 'Sildenafil (Viagra) is not only able to minimize
erectile problems, but it can also reduce the risks of gaining
excessive weight.'

His team examined the effect of the sex drug on fat cells in mice after earlier tests revealed rodents treated with Viagra became resistant to obesity when fed a high-fat diet.

The researchers administered the potency drug to the
rodents for seven days.

'The effects were quite amazing,' said co-researcher Dr Ana
Kilic.

Sildenafil increased the
conversion of white fat cells, which are found in human 'problem areas',
into beige ones in the animals.

'Beige fat cells burn the energy from
ingested food and convert it to heat', said Prof Pfeifer.

Because the
beige fat cells can 'melt the fat' and thus fight obesity, researchers
are very hopeful for their potential.

Tiny blue pills: Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction as well as a rare lung disease known as pulmonary hypertension

Tiny blue pills: Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction as well as a rare lung disease known as pulmonary hypertension

The researchers found the drug also prevented white fat cells from increasing in size and releasing hormones that in turn cause inflammation. This could potentially reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

'It seems
that sildenafil prevented the fat cells in these mice from getting onto
that slippery slope,' said Prof Pfeifer.

The team said these implications would need to be proven in additional studies.

More than half a billion people are
overweight worldwide. A survey published last year revealed that just
over a quarter of adults (26 per cent) in the UK are obese. The
condition increases your risk of developing a number of potentially
life-threatening diseases such as cancer and heart disease as well as
type 2 diabetes.

Despite promising data in the latest study, researchers
caution the public against assuming popping a Viagra pill will help them shed the pounds.

'We are currently in the basic research stage, and all the
studies have been exclusively performed on mice,' said Prof
Pfeifer.

Further research will be needed until potentially suitable drugs for
decreasing white fat cells in humans will be found.

The results, reported in association with the Max Planck Institute have been published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.